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"To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower; Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour." William Blake

Shipping Sorted

November 23rd, 2006 by sunflowers

I managed to find a shipping company that will get my bike back up to London before I go back to New Zealand next week. It is just over €600 but is still the most cost effective option. Now I just hope it doesn’t get stolen over the Xmas period while I am away.

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Moving Money

November 22nd, 2006 by sunflowers

In preparation of my trip I had applied to open a Nationwide Building Society flex account as they do not apply any charges for overseas usage. Thinking about it, with the amount I travel for work I probably should have opened up one of these accounts years ago.

I also applied for £5000 balance transfer to cover the cost of the roof replacement I am trying to organise. Also to cover myself as I now won’t get paid again until sometime in February. It does amaze me that I can log onto my credit card account, type in that I wanted £5000 transferred to my current account and less than five minutes later I have an email saying it had been approved and the money would be there within seven working days.

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Slightly stressed

November 20th, 2006 by sunflowers

Ever since I found out late on Thursday night that my bike wasn’t being brought up to London all I have done is stress about how I was going to get it back from Portugal. It wasn’t the best timing as on Friday I had to get up at four in the morning to fly out to visit a client and then had two days by myself with no one to talk to which meant it was all my mind focused on.

So in the evenings in Sweden I posted on a few forums and waited up late to see if people responded and answering emails. During the day I was pretty tired and ended up falling asleep on Sunday on my sight seeing tour and woke up to the guide saying that in the Swedish army they issued two litres of beer per day to each person in the regiment. Wouldn’t that be the life!

Last night I finally talked to someone about riding my bike up and they pointed out that the costs alone would be about £500 and that minimum rate for paying someone to do it would be about £250 a day and I needed to make sure that the person had full insurance (it turns out that most UK insurance policies are only third party for Europe) and that I was in cuckoo land (their words not mine) if I thought that someone would ride it for me.

But then kindly off of AdvRider a retired policeman who lived in France offered to go and pick it up for cost and that he would store it until Jan when I could go and pick it up myself. Also someone sent me some links to shipping companies and I phoned a few of them. The first one I phoned said they would bring it up for £250. Brilliant! But then they said they would get back to me with when they bring it up so I phoned a few more. Two didn’t exist anymore, two didn’t ship motorcycles and one quoted £1100. I went back to look at the website of the first company and it said they don’t ship motorised items. So now I am wondering if they thought I was talking about a bicycle but I couldn’t get a hold of them again.

Tonight as I started to bicycle home after meeting up with a friend for a few drinks it started to rain heavily. At least when it is raining hard you feel like you are getting wet facing a proper down pour but after a few minutes it turned into the standard London drizzle. Riding home I thought about how much better I felt since getting home and talking through everything with my friends and it reaffirmed how important they are to me and I want to thank them all for putting up with listening to things like the problems of transporting a bike from Lisbon to London which have no relevance to them but they listen too because they are my friends.

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Stockholm, Sweden

November 19th, 2006 by sunflowers

SwedenThe Kingdom of Sweden is a Nordic country bordered by Norway on the west and Finland on the east. It’s population is 9 million. It is the 55th largest country, 5th largest in Europe (a bit larger than the state of California). Stockholm it’s capital city of 700,000 though 1.8 million live in the greater city area.

SwedenSwedenStockholm is known as the Venice of the north and the central part of the city consists of fourteen islands that are part of the biggest archipelago (a chain or cluster of islands) in the Baltic Sea.

This morning I got up and walking to the start of the city sight seeing tour there were guys fishing off the esplanade. I wondered if it was like seeing the guys fishing along the canals in London who I don’t actually think catch anything. But one of the guys had some fish laid out so I guess they do.

SwedenThe city sight seeing tour was ok but as they didn’t let us off the bus I didn’t really get any decent photos. But the weather was lovely and sunny as compared to yesterday when I had started raining on me on the way home.

SwedenI had to leave for the plane at 12:30 and it ended up taking seven and a half hours to get back home though I did have a nice chat to the bloke decide me who was heading out to Belfast to work for a couple of weeks. I also saw the bridge to nowhere from the plane. The bridge between Demark and Sweden goes half way and then disappears under water so it looks like it just disappears. But instead I got a photo on the way to the UK.

SwedenSince getting home I have been working on how to get my bike from Lisbon. I also didn’t win lotto and my date from Thursday night hasn’t contacted me. But as I am right knackered I am sure it will all be better in the morning.

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November 18th, 2006 by sunflowers

VasterasOwlI advertised on HU, AdvRider and f650.com asking for help getting my bike from Lisbon to London and it was really encouraging. A Canadian and an American both offered to fly over and ride it up but unfortunately not until later a bit later so I just let them know if they want to borrow it at some other time they were welcome to. In fact I think that I am going to register on www.bikeshareworld.com as it would be nice to lend my bike out. Plus I am hoping to be able to borrow one while I am in New Zealand. I have already had a post from someone off HU offering me the use of their bike in Christchurch. I hadn’t been planning to go down to the South Island as I live at the top of the North Island but it might be nice to visit my old stomping grounds as I used to live in Chch.

Old HouseSpeaking of revisiting memories. When I first started at my current company I spent the first year working in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland but never made it to Stockholm. Yesterday I had an afternoon meeting about 100km outside of Stockholm with one of the companies we partner with on a project I managing in Slovenia. So I have stayed the weekend to see a little bit of Sweden’s capital city.

It is quite strange to have become familiar with the culture (though not learning to speak the language) and then revisit it. Last night I was knackered so I just stayed in the town were my meeting was. Unfortunately I didn’t sleep too well as there was kids outside being noisy until the wee hours of the morning.Bear

Today I took the train down to Stockholm and wandered around Skansen an open air museum of historic houses and farmsteads and Scandinavian animals. I got there just in time for the feeding tour of the wolves, bears, bison, cool cat things and seals.

CatIt started getting dark by three o’clock so I headed to the Old Town for a look around the narrow cobbled streets, restaurants and shopping. I went for dinner and had fish soup. Dining out is really expensive in Scandinavia. The price of fish soup ranges from £8-£12 ($15-$25US). So when I was living in Norway I used to make a sandwich at the breakfast (continental style – bread, cheeses and meats) and then for dinner just have a fish soup. But they must really be into fruit here as all the hotels and work places seem to have bowls of fruit for people to help themselves to.

CaribouIt is also a great place to people watch as the Swedes are as good looking as they say. Not as nice as the Danes though but better looking than the Norwegians 😉 And it is a lovely lilting language to listen to. But easy to get around as everyone speaks english and some of the channels are in english which is nice when you are stuck in hotel rooms in the evenings.

Luckily the cheap hotel I booked into has free wireless which is nice as I can keep on organising my change of life direction.

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Damsel in Distress

November 17th, 2006 by sunflowers

Yesterday I felt like the luckiest person in the world. To go from paying for my own school uniform and stationary in secondary school, putting myself through university and my mba to be head hunted for a top job in the city is wicked. I now have a year and a half to prepare for an amazing adventure. My date went well. I am getting to go home for a whole month to spend time with my family in New Zealand (though I didn’t get any stop overs as the ticket prices were going up as I was looking). Also I was able to go home a week earlier as one of the people sharing the container to BA had written to me asking if he could hire my bike for a few weeks and had agreed to bring it up to London. I even decided to buy my second ever lotto ticket for the £120 million Europe lotto.

But I don’t think that I am going to win lotto as my luck is changing. Today the person who was going to ride my bike up said that they are no longer able to. Maybe they looked at the weather forecast for London? I would rather stay in Portugal as well.

So now I have no time off work and only next weekend to go and get my bike. There aren’t any Spain to UK ferries that allow the trip to be done in a weekend so I will have to try and ride it 1367 miles in two days and use the Dover Calais crossing.

I am going to post on the Hubb and Advrider to see if there is anyone who would be interested in riding it up for me if I paid their costs and some amount per day. Fingers crossed. Otherwise it will be a pretty challenging two days of riding.

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November 16th, 2006 by sunflowers

It is weird waking up in the morning and seeing my bag packed with my camping gear ready to go. It turns out that I let Nuno know that I wasn’t going just as they were ready to take my bike to the containers to be shipped.

On Tuesday my footprint for Mexico and Central America arrived. Yesterday I received my swanky new moulded earplugs. I have contacted ACS and Chance UK to let them know that I have put off my plans for a while. Both of them were supportive.

So now I am waiting for the project to be confirmed. Trying to book my flights back to New Zealand. One good thing about flying to NZ is that you can have stop overs. I usually stop in Korea where my sister lives and last year it was Malaysia. Air NZ had a sale that finished yesterday that allowed you to fly through LA one way and Hong Kong the other. So I might visit my cousin in LA for New Years and pick up a cheap laptop in Hong Kong and visit a mate I met in Egypt a few years ago who is living out there. Though I would rather find something that goes through the South Pacific and stop in Tonga/Samoa etc.

I am also looking at hiring a bike in NZ as my family won’t actually believe I can ride a motorcycle until I show up on one. Plus I can visit old friends all over the North Island.

In the mornings I am excited about the prospect of spending a substantial time being in one spot, getting my PMI exam out of the way instead of having tried to do it while I was travelling and plan to do evening classes, learn to cook and Spanish. I am also going to do my advanced riding exam as the IAM had asked me not to finish last time as they felt I should learn to ride before I did advanced riding 😉 I am also going to move into a tiny flat (32 square metres including 7 square metres of stairwell) that I bought a couple of years ago but have never been able to afford to live in. Part of the reason my finances got shot is that it needs the entire roof replaced.

By the evenings after a couple really busy days at work finishing up late and contemplating my hour bicycle home in the rain I wonder if I can last that long in a big, dirty and sometimes unfriendly city. Still tonight I have a date with a bloke from the internet. I originally wrote to him asking him about plasters as he has renovated a couple of houses in North London (it is harder in this town to find a decent tradesman than a date!). He sounds good on paper – school teacher, likes to travel, cooks with organic food, into DIY, lived in Columbia for three years. So I will do my best not to have too much to drink and dress up nicely. Then tomorrow I am off to Stockholm for work and to stay the weekend as I haven’t been there before.

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Sixtieth Royal Film Performance of Casino Royale

November 15th, 2006 by sunflowers

Bond PremierBond PremierI just got back from a superb night thanks to my mate Ian who invited me along to the Sixtieth Royal Film Performance of Casino Royale the latest Bond movie. The movie was really good which you will see for yourself. But it was nothing compared to the excitement of attending a world premier that the Queen is at.

When we arrived we entered along a red carpet strip though Leicester Square walking along side Richard Branson (famous UK tycoon). Inside we had front row seats and at the start of the movie the main cast came up on the stage just feet away from us while behind the Queen and Prince Philip were a few yards away in the front of the dress circle.

We also got to see Chris Cornell the ex-lead singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave as he has written the theme track. I have his excellent solo album Euphoria Morning which is very similar to the theme track that he has written.

Bond PremierBond PremierI must admit seeing the exotic locations in the movie made me slightly regret my decision to stay in London for the next year and a half. Still I doubt that I will have no holidays during that time. And I am going to make the most of having more confidence on my motorcycle and get out of London for lots of weekends throughout the summer.

The funniest bit of the evening was just after having my picture taken in front of the Odeon Ian turned around to take some pictures of the press and didn’t notice he had stepped on my dress, which was my fault for not having picked it up. So I ended up falling the last two stairs and landed flat on the red carpet but I picked myself up really quickly so I don’t think that anyone noticed.

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No Restaurant Details

November 14th, 2006 by sunflowers

I phoned up my mother and grandmother last night in New Zealand to tell them that if this job comes through that I would be delaying my trip and would be coming home for Christmas. They are absolutely stoked. Partly because I haven’t been home for Christmas since I was 17 and they also hope that I will find someone to do my trip with. I wouldn’t mind finding someone but I would rather go by myself than with the wrong person/people.

This morning I woke up thinking that even on better pay it was going to take me two years to save the amount of money I invested in the restaurant in Turkey (it did take me four and a half years) and my business partner hasn’t even sent me the full set of figures. If it hadn’t been for the restaurant not returning the additional money I sent over to cover the start of the summer expenses I wouldn’t have been considering taking a job offering. At least now I will have time to hopefully sort that out before I go. I have already been teased about not investing in anything so risky next time ;-).

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City Job

November 13th, 2006 by sunflowers

After spending last night preparing for the interview using a really good website my mate recommended www.businessballs.com/interviews.htm this morning I woke up early to do some more research on the company. I knew that they were involved in on selling a lot of the renewable energy (wind and biomass generation) in the UK but as I started reading through their weekly newsletter I realised that they work with a lot of the green energy producers in the UK and are involved with the process of the UK working towards the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol that happened in February for the development of global greenhouse gas emissions trading markets. Which really made me really want the job as I had thought that one day I would really like to work for an environmental charity and even though they aren’t an environmental change agency they are involved in the movement towards the national climate change programme and promoted the use of renewable obligations certificates even though they are a commercial company and their parent company ranks in the top half of the Fortune 500.

I sat my interview with the Chief Operating Office, the Head of Risk Management and the Head of IT and it went really well. At the end they said that the project was going for board approval this week and afterwards they would decide whether they needed to look at further candidates. I explained that my bike was being loaded today and that I would be able to fly to BA to get it out but it would be helpful if they could give me feedback today. So an hour after I left they phoned up to say that pending project approval that the position was mine.

This type of position is what I have been working towards since I left university and it is an amalgamation of all my previous work experience as well as being the chance to expand my career. So I said yes. Now I have the chance to plan an amazing adventure rather than just concentrating on learning to ride as I have done since deciding to do this trip. I am now envisioning around the world on a motorcycle that runs on alternative fuels, if I can find one. I am still planning a motorcycle adventure but will have the time to get much better prepared and to be honest I love spending time planning things. The project I was offered is 18 month to 2 years which is a bit longer than I wanted to wait but I have met quite a few people through HU that are looking at doing their trip in 2008. Plus it could still all fall through. The best bit is that I am going to get the chance to go home and see my family in New Zealand for a few weeks as I won’t be starting until Jan.

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